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Editing vs Proofreading: Key Differences, Useful Tips, & Top Tools for the Job

Perhaps you are new to book writing and decided to dip your toes in the water. You are excited to finally finish your book and can't wait for it to hit the shelves. On the other hand, you might be interested in becoming a professional editor and want to learn the nitty gritty before you handle a monumental task.

A document or book isn't truly ready to reach its audience if it hasn't undergone the rigorous editing step to eliminate any errors. This article will introduce the concepts of editing and proofreading, explain the differences, highlight some essential tips, and discuss the best tools to use when polishing your work.

editing and proofreading

What Is the Difference Between Editing and Proofreading?

You might wonder what is the difference between editing and proofreading because they both seem to serve the same purpose. This section of the article will discuss the differences between editing and proofreading.


Editing is a broad term that entails various corrective tasks to ensure the written document is polished and error-free. On the other hand, proofreading entails surface-level checks on a manuscript to ensure it is cohesive and no mistakes are left uncorrected.

Stage in the Editing Phase

Editing comes first before proofreading, and not the other way around. The manuscript will first pass through an editor who does a thorough job before it goes to a proofreader, who will ascertain everything is up to the required standard.


The purpose of editing is to ensure all mistakes are eliminated before the final sweep. Proofreading, on the other hand, highlights any errors the editor missed so they can revisit the article and promptly correct it.

How To Proofread/Edit Text

Here are a few techniques you could use when proofreading and editing text.

proofreading and editing
  • Read the text from start to finish without looking for any particular errors within the sentences. Your main goal should be to grasp the main concepts of the text and any underlying themes.
  • Do a second reading, taking note of any mistakes that stood out to you during the first reading.
  • Comb through each sentence to ensure you leave no mistakes untouched.
  • Take a break from your work so you don't feel overwhelmed.
  • Ask a friend or fellow editor to peruse the document for any errors you missed. An extra pair of eyes could also indicate whether you need to change your tone or use a more appropriate word.
  • Double-check each paragraph before you move on to the next one.
  • If possible, change the format of the document. If you don't like editing from your computer screen, print the document and annotate on the hard copy.
  • Read the document one final time to ascertain you corrected each mistake.

Tips for Proofreading and Editing

Here are a few tips that will help you proofread and edit text like a pro:

Identify the mistakes you commonly make

The first tip that can help you when editing or proofreading a document is to identify the mistakes you would make when drafting a text. Putting yourself in the author's shoes can help you highlight and correct any errors they made during the writing process. Over time, you will be better positioned to hone your skills and improve your weak areas.

Here is a quick list of common errors you will likely make when creating a document.

editing proofreading
  • Missing or incorrect punctuation marks.
  • Wrong word choices.
  • Sentence fragments.
  • Incorrect subject-verb agreement.
  • Misplaced or dangling modifiers.
  • Wrong verb forms and tenses.

Involve Your Auditory Senses

Sometimes your brain might fail to register a mistake in writing when you are reading along silently. You might also skip some spelling mistakes because your brain will fill in the blanks and read the sentence as it is supposed to appear. Reading the text aloud lets you hear how the sentences sound and whether the flow is correct. You will also be able to spot mistakes and correct them promptly.

Highlight Any Mistakes You Come Across

It isn't enough to mentally note where an error is during your initial sweep of the text. You are bound to forget exactly where you saw it, especially if the text is lengthy. If you are proofreading a hardcopy text format, you could use a brightly colored pen or highlighter to circle where you saw the mistake so you don't forget.

Look For One Error at a Time

As you have seen above, there are numerous types of errors within a text. You might focus too much on one type of error that you forget another. A great idea would be to focus on one type of error at a time. For instance, after the initial reading, you could ensure all punctuation marks are correct before checking for misspelled words.

Section the Text Into Smaller Chunks

Large blocks of text might be hard to proofread. You might get tired along the way, causing you to do a sloppy job. A pro tip would be to divide the text into smaller sections, so you don't get weary. If you feel like taking a break, you can put your work aside and continue with the next section when you feel fresh. Dividing your work into smaller chunks also creates a feeling of accomplishment when you complete one section.

Use Spell and Grammar Checkers Better

In the olden days, proofreaders didn't have fancy AIs to help them finish the job. Technology has come a long way in making our work easier. Today, all you need to do is upload your document to a spell checker, and it will highlight all the mistakes in your work. However, it would be wise not to rely on them too much.

Read Paragraphs and Sentences Backwards

You are more likely to miss a spelling mistake when reading an entire sentence correctly because you focus more on flow and syntax. On the other hand, when you read it backward, you can isolate each word and look at them with a critical eye. This technique is excellent when looking for spelling and grammatical errors.

Keep Distractions at Bay

Lastly, noise from outside, the TV or the radio, can reduce concentration. Before you know it, you are rushing through the document so you can finally toss it aside. The best way to proofread a document would be to sit in a quiet room away from electronic devices and noise. We also urge you to tell the people around you to keep it down while you work.

Best Tools for Editing and Proofreading

By now, you are well-versed in proofreading, editing, and revising and the importance of editing and proofreading. Did you know that you don't have to manually comb through an entire document when you have a few tools at your disposal to make your work easier? Below are a few practical proofreading tools to perfect your writing.


editing proofreading

The first tool we will discuss to help you make your document error-free is Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor. Even though this platform is feature-rich and contains all the tools you might need to alter your digital document, we will focus on the AI Proofread feature.

Wondershare PDFelement has used ChatGPT under the hood to create a powerful AI robot known as Lumi. It analyzes the content of a document, digests it, and highlights any mistakes you made during the writing process.

Here is a detailed guide on how to use this platform to Proofread your work effortlessly.

Step 1 Launch the platform on your device and select "Proofread" in the pop-up window.

Step 2 Go to the "Content" box and enter the text you want to edit.

Step 3 Click "Proofread" to initiate the process. Alternatively, you can access Lumi from the floating toolbar.

Step 4 Look out for suggestions on how to correct any sentence with mistakes.

Step 5 Check the edited version in the Response box and copy it to a separate file for one final sweep before submission or publishing. The platform also allows you to replace the original text with one simple click.

proofreading edits


proofreading edits

Another nifty tool to proofread your documents is ProWritingAid, a free platform passionate about helping you write with ease, confidence, and accuracy. The automated suggestions provide numerous helpful style and grammar improvements to get your writing where it needs to be. You can also leverage the masterclasses to get expert advice to draft essential documents like college admission essays and cover letters.


proofreading edits

Quillbot is famously known as a paraphrasing tool to help you generate content as long as you provide a prompt. However, this platform can also help you rewrite your document or change the tone to suit the message you are trying to convey. Quillbot also has a plagiarism checker, so you don't commit the heinous act of presenting someone else's work as your own.


proofreading and editing

If you are in the market for an effective tool to help you submit better documents and make a good impression on your audience, look no further than PerfectIt. As the name suggests, this platform won't stop till your manuscript is as perfect as it can be, ready for presentation. PerfectIt offers you a free trial to determine whether you enjoy using it before you commit your precious monies and buy the software. Another perk of using this software is that it incorporates UK, CA, US, and AU English.


proofreading and editing

Language Tool is a nice online proofreading tool that will check documents in over 30 languages. You can choose to sign up or copy and paste the text you want to proofread for free. Language Tool guarantees the security of your documents when you upload them to the server and offers a "Picky Mode" feature that grants you access to advanced suggestions on improving your writing.


Though editing and proofreading are separate processes that occur in different stages of the editorial phase, they are both critical in ensuring you produce a clean and polished document. You will also get to hone your writing skills and know what mistakes you shouldn't make the next time you sit in front of your laptop or PC to draft a document. Ensure you use best practices and the right proofreading tools to save you more time as you make your content professional.

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